Free measles vaccination for non-immune adults

On 1 April 2018, an offer of free measles vaccination for adults was introduced. You are covered by the offer if you have not previously received measles vaccination or had measles – because if that is the case, you are immune and therefore already protected. You can be vaccinated free of charge at your GP or at a private vaccination clinic.

The offer includes one MMR vaccine, which protects against measles as well as mumps and rubella. Practically all persons born before 1974 have had measles and are therefore immune. Testing to determine the immune status is not offered before vaccination.

Even though Denmark has used a two-dose MMR vaccination programme for more than 30 years and has now eliminated measles, a group of people, particularly among younger adults up to around 45 years of age, have not been vaccinated in childhood and have also not had the condition as it has been a rare disease during most of their life span.

Measles virus is one of the most infectious viruses we know of. Therefore, at least 95% of all children must have received two MMR vaccinations to ensure that the virus cannot persistently circulate in the population. Despite the fact that the vaccination coverage of both MMR vaccines has been increasing the past 5-6 years, the required coverage has not been reached for any birth year since the introduction of the vaccine. This means that the number of non-immune adults has been accumulating in the course of the years.

When Danes travel to countries where measles virus is still in circulation, they are at risk of being exposed and of falling ill if they have not received vaccination or previously had measles. This also applies when travelling to other countries within Europe. Returning travellers with measles may therefore infect non-immune people in Denmark. Therefore, the health authorities recommend being vaccinated when staying in Denmark and before any foreign travel.

Along with continued enhanced vaccination measures among children, the vaccination offer to adults may contribute to maintaining Denmark’s status as a country that has eliminated measles.

For more information, please see EPI-NEWS 13-14/18.

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